Monday, July 25, 2016

Of Pens and Swords - #newbooks

I'm excited to have RENA ROCFORD visiting today as her latest book, OF PENS AND SWORDS just came out. It's a wonderful modernized YA from a cherished classic. AND she's taking over the blog with some great advice about making your Somedays into Todays. Here's Rena!

Thanks for letting me invade the blog today, Tara!
For years I’ve struggled with the somedays. You know them: Someday I’ll have my house perfect. Someday I’ll have all of my laundry done before the start of the week. Someday I’ll do a better job of making all the lunches so everyone has something to eat all week long and I don’t have to feel like a failure when I make the family eat mac and cheese for dinner (with hotdogs). Someday, I’ll finish writing this novel. Someday, I’ll finish this marketing campaign. Someday, I’ll really really be able to entertain my friends and family in my nicely landscaped backyard.

I’ve been living in the somedays for most of my life. Really, we all have. Isn’t it silly how much stress we give ourselves over laundry and housework? Like many people, I have a full time job and a gig as a writer, and you know what I don’t have? Somedays.

source: twitter
If I waited for my Somedays, I wouldn’t get to anything. There’s now and there’s tomorrow. It’s taken me a long time to really view my time like money. If you ever thought about how much time you spend on Facebook or instagram as money, or a fee per minute, you’d use it differently, right? I know I would. If FB cost a dollar a minute, I’d never hang out there. It doesn’t so we spend all the time we want there. It’s free, even. Except for one part: Facebook and instagram and pintrest and twitter aren’t free. They still cost one minute per minute.

And sometimes, I need a cat video because the real world sucks sometimes. Social media is good for that part of life—the getting away from the real world—but in the end, the only way to get to the somedays is to pick some of them and do them in the today.

But how do you pick which to pursue?

This is where you need peace. You need to make peace with the fact that some of your somedays will live in someday for a very long time (I just finished unpacking the boxes in my library, and we moved in a year ago). That doesn’t always mean they will stay somedays forever, but it’s not looking good for my getting into gymnastics if you know what I mean. Something happened last week, and my someday of weed whacking the front yard had to be put off for a full week. Somedays are just like that, and you need to make peace with it before you can move down that someday list. 

Of Pens and Swords
By Rena Rocford

Seventeen-year-old Cyra Berque wants two things in life: a date with Rochan and a chance to fence at the Olympics. But people with one hand don’t normally fence, and girls with big thighs don’t get the boy. Knowing that she wants to make the Olympics, Cyra’s coach sets her up with another coach, one who could take her all the way to the top, but the new coach costs more. Feeling her dreams slipping out of reach, Cyra agrees to tutor a ballerina with a rich father and a D minus in English. It’s triple the pay and triple the pain. The ballerina isn’t interested in passing classes―she wants Rochan, and she’s promised she’ll turn her D minus into a full-fledged F if Cyra doesn’t help her win the heart of Rochan. 

Buy it now on Amazon!

When Rena Rocford isn’t taking over the world one book at a time, she can be found living out her mild-mannered life, wearing out dance shoes, raising a herd of pets, and enjoying her time with her family in beautiful Northern California.
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Monday, July 18, 2016

Second Book Syndrome #FREEbooks #giveaway

Sometimes seconds are good and sometimes they aren't.

Bad seconds: second helping, second place, second movies, sloppy seconds, wait a second, second choice, two seconds too late, 2nd in line - don't they just all sound like losers because they weren't FIRST?

Great seconds: second children, sometimes second marriages, second dates, second time around, second chance, second base, ha ha. I'll stop there, but I know you can come up with more!

>>> HOLD ON!! I must interrupt myself to mention, the horrifically awesome Yolanda Renee is having me at her place today and I'm talking about SIMULATION and Marketing Tips. You can go there first if it sounds better, and come back here second...(hee hee) <<<


SIMULATION is the second book in the Pop Travel series. Its sales and reviews are slim compared to its older brother. Why? Has this happened to you? Well, I have a few theories, let me know what you think...

  • Did people not like the first one enough to buy he second?
  • Do people not like the second and therefore not want to review it?
  • Is it not getting enough exposure?
  • Should I go on with the third?
Let's address these issues and try to reason them out.

First, if you're like me, you've had a bunch of loyal customers and great feedback from the first books - not only family and friends, but from strangers, too! This is clearly not the reason - we're fabulous!

Second (but still good!), How could they not like the second book? Here are my secondary theories...
  • Many people naturally have lower expectations of a second book, like second movies are usually not as good as the first.
  • Some friends bought the first book to support it being your first book - and that's as far as they went... it happens
  • So less readers = less reviews
  • marketing is part of the picture - it takes a while to get the next books out and unless you're keeping your readers informed (like with a newsletter) they may not realize the next one is out yet! More of the Next will help...
Next. This and the Last are the only things we can control. That evil word MARTKETING! I believe BOLDER is BETTER to be NOTICED in type and in life. There are tons of books out there and it's hard to get readers' attention. Even sub-category rankings are huge numbers. That means there are thousands of books in the same category vying for buyers' perusal. We have to do something drastic!

BTW, In August, I'm going to offer up a Marketing Series with some crazy ideas - untried, untested, and definitely unapproved! Any volunteers want to give me their reactions? (mention if you'd like to answer a question or two for me!)

Last. Writing the next book is the EASIEST way to get more readers. You have to keep writing, even when you are worried the third might sell less than the second... Don't get discouraged! Most readers want a ready-made series so they can continue post-haste. And the more books you have out there, the more you sell - this is from experience.

So keep writing! Just having a few fans from my small fan base ask for more is inspiration enough for me to keep at it. Totally worth the work and worry, not to mention, I love it!

Any "seconds" to share? Any thoughts or advice? I could always use it!
And don't forget to sign up for a signed copy of one of my books or some swag in honor of my book bdays this month...


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Monday, July 11, 2016

How to stay POSITIVE! #mondaymotivation and #giveaway

How do you feel today?

A counselor once told me that there are 4 basic emotions: Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Fear. All of the rest of our emotions are basically just varying degrees or combinations of these four roots (think about it...) The downside of this is that Happiness seems to be the only positive - like Inside Out (which had 5, but it would've worked with 4) Fortunately, Happiness is also the goal for most people. I guess that's why life seems to be an uphill battle, but happy times are worth it, right?

Well, in keeping with my intent to send positive vibes, I came up with a list, (you know I love lists) a list of ways to lift your mood, which in the process will lift the spirits of those around you as well. Being positive is just as contagious as being negative.
  1. smile - The easiest, yet most powerful thing you can do.
  2. avoid negative - It's hard to stay positive when surrounded by negative. Walk away if you can, or change friends if necessary. 
  3. take life less seriously - There is a time for seriousness, the rest is up to you. Will it matter in ten years? Will it matter tomorrow?
  4. laugh at yourself - Gotta start somewhere. Don't waste time, energy, and emotion on getting embarrassed, that's a you only emotion. Others react the same whether you like it or not.
  5. sing - Who can sing when they're sad or mad? I dare you to try!
  6. get off the internet - I always sneak this in, even though it's a wonderful tool, we have become addicted and desensitized. And even the funny stuff is usually sarcastic or laughing at others' misfortunes. I wonder how I will preach this lesson to my grandchildren... maybe in a haunted hologram so they will listen. (light bulb - story idea!!) Take a break from it!
  7. help others - The ultimate way to lift others and yourself
  8. find the positive - In a dire situation, this is a difficult task. Challenge yourself!
  9. don't go it alone - You are not the only one who has gone through a tough time. We are here for each other, let others in to help
  10. pray - The last resort for some that should be the first. The cool breeze on a sunny day, and shelter in a storm.
I ask again - How do you feel today?
And what are you gonna do about it?

And now, here's some news...

I'm surprise highlighting Lexa Cain this week!

She and her publisher are hosting a super fun giveaway! You can win a BLOODWALKER card deck! I love this swag idea! Way to go girl!

Lexa also promotes others by listing free stuff and giveaways weekly in Foxy's Freebies - a wonderful supporter is she!!

I took a chance with my prayer this past weekend - and I really appreciate all the positive feedback. Thank you! I hope it spreads!

I also appreciate all the support and retweets and shoutouts about my ebook sales the last couple of weeks - Thanks Heaps and Bushels!! Broken Branch Falls and especially Pop Travel soared to the tops of Amazon's Free charts. Gotta love those sub-categories!

I'd also like to thank those who volunteered to help me with reading, reviewing, reveals and releases coming up. Once I devise a new and improved plan of attack for my latest release of CRADLE ROCK, I'll recruit more with a form. It's time to reach more readers than just my supportive writer friends! Take my hand and join me in the bold adventure of marketing!!

And I'm still celebrating my books' bdays by giving away signed copies and swag! Whoever wins has their choice of signed book or swag! And it goes through the end of the month.

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Have a PoSiTiVeLY PeRKY week!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

We need an #uplift

I do NOT get political on my blog. No controversy, no taking sides, no blame. It's just too negative.

With that said, there is a dense cloud of sadness smothering America from recent events. Its trickle-down effect is stinging every one of us. Farther and farther down we are spiraling. And many of us feel helpless and frustrated and don't know how to fix it.

The best way little old me can help, from my small, insignificant corner of the world, is to send prayers and positive vibes. So that is what I am doing today...

Dear Father in Heaven,
Please comfort those who have lost.
Please bring reason to those who seek revenge.
Don't let them twist Your Words, saying "An eye for an eye," when that Old Law was done away;
Let them know Your New Law to be better than those who do evil -
"Turn the other cheek" "Love your enemies" "Pray for them" (Luke 6:27-38)
Please give US the strength to love and light up the world with good works,
To extinguish the hate and darkness in downtrodden hearts.
Only Your Love can save us.

Please help us carry on, even when we don't understand why these things happen.
I have faith that things will soon be better.

Help me forgive others so You might forgive me when I stumble.
Thank you for your blessings.
Especially the perfect example of Jesus.
In His Name, Amen.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

I hope and pray things don't get worse before they get better - but we writers know that happens sometimes... Now go hug someone and spread some joy!

Monday, July 4, 2016

See a Need, Fill a Need

One of my favorite movie lines...Robots, Ewan McGregor, and productivity have been on my mind lately. Though summer just officially started on June 20, my summer is half over! I have so much I still need to accomplish. Here's my summer homework list:
  • WIP - DISPOSAL, I finished the first draft, but I really want to finish 2 rounds of edits and send to CPs (I could also use one beta reader - if you're interested, let me know)
  • Finish 2 short stories for future submissions - I have a thousand ideas and started stories, but most of my time is dedicated to the WIP... really hard to choose one or two to work on! (One is about robot teachers!)
  • Start rough draft of WHEN THE WIND BLOWS (3rd Broken Branch Falls)
  • Coordinate Cradle Rock release blog/review tour - I already have a couple of review volunteers but could use a couple more, let me know if you're up for it or if you'd like to help with the cover reveal in Sept!
  • Finish reading 3 books - this is supposed to be summer vacation after all.
I've chipped away at my list, but it's funny how things come up that we magically make time for, especially if they're fun. Like for me, it's scrapbooks. I was able to visit my grandma and I wanted to bring her a gift. My dad told me what she likes best is photos - so I made her a small scrapbook.
Then my sister reminded me our parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary this month! Egadz! Well they don't like making a big deal out of things, not even huge milestones like this, so again, I took the time to make them a scrapbook (memories seem to be the most valued treasure as we get older) But the hardest scrapbook/slide show project I am about to embark on is for my first born son who will be a senior this year. I'm going to have to go to Costco and stock up on tissues, I fear.

Meets 1st Wed of Month
1st Wed each month
Which all brings me to this month's IWSG post. We all have so much to do these days. But when other things come up, it's okay to get sidetracked and take care of them - whether out of necessity or just to take a well-deserved time-out for yourself. As long as we go back to work! And our work will be better for it.

Thinking about this recently, I was inspired to write a poem...

In Need

A gray cloud...needs to cry
A thorny branch...needs pruning
A scratchy throat...needs silence
A wilted flower...needs a talk

A smudged mirror...needs cleansing
A lone straggler...needs direction
A bad grade...needs focus
A charged firework...needs a spark

A red light...needs patience
A sore head...needs peace
A big winner...needs humility
A sad soul...needs a hug

Thanks always to Alex J. Cavanaugh for getting us together each month and to his helpful co-hosts!

Goings on...

My first book, POP TRAVEL is three-years-old this month! And in honor of its Book Bday, it's FREE! But only JULY 6 & 7. I will also GIVEAWAY one signed copy of each of my novels so far to celebrate OR a bracelet if you already have the book! (See below, starts at midnight 7/4)

The Summer Edition of my quarterly Newsletter is out - can't believe another 3 months has flown by! Stop over for tidbits and teasers if you have time.

Well, THE THING THAT TURNED ME anthology needs more time to be perfected - we're shooting for August 5. Look for the authors' awesome promos for their stories, links on our Facebook page.

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